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Solar power could be leading source of electricity by 2050

Solar power could be leading source of electricity by 2050

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U.N. chief welcomes announcements made in Climate Summit

U.N. chief welcomes announcements made in Climate Summit

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed bold new actions to addres...

Climate Summit sees intiatives and commitments

Climate Summit sees intiatives and commitments

Various bodies and entities on the Climate Summit in New York have announced the...

Climate Rally reaches 310,000 participants

Climate Rally reaches 310,000 participants

The number of people who joined the People’s Climate March this September 21 rea...

China takes big step in reducing ozone depleting gases

China takes big step in reducing ozone depleting gases

China has taken a big step towards reducing its hydrochlorfluorocarbons by closi...

Ozone layer on road to recovery – U.N.E.P., W.M.O.

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Green vacation: Go on an eco-friendly safari

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Business

Technology

New oxygen-removing catalyst developed for better biofuel production

New oxygen-removing catalyst developed for better biofuel production

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Researchers from Washington State University have developed a new catalyst that can remove oxygen from plant-based materials for a more efficient biof...

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Politics

Chile sets carbon tax on its vehicles

Chile sets carbon tax on its vehicles

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Chile has set a carbon tax on its vehicles, promoting vehicle and energy efficiency. Under the tax reform, which is the largest in the last three deca...

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Living Green

How can households produce their own energy

How can households produce their own energy

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Green living, renewable resources, energy saving and producing your own energy are all topics that have gained big importance in our everyday life. It...

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Renewables

Low-Carbon

What needs to be injected In the core DNA of urbanity

What needs to be injected In the core DNA of urbanity

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Urbanization has taken an unprecedented upward turn in recent years. In 2007, half of the world’s population – around 3.6 billion people – lived in ur...

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Opinion

Unsustainable urban life: What's next?

Unsustainable urban life: What's next?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Nutrition plays a critical role in everyone’s chance at a better future. Hunger, said Benjamin Franklin once, is the best pickle. Some say “pickle”...

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Researchers look into bacteria-powered water desalination process


Bruce Logan, Kappe professor of environmental engineering (right) and Maha Mehanna, postdoctoral fellow (left) are already at work on the next generation of microbial
desalination cells based on using air cathodes.
Image Courtesy of Penn State Live

A team of researchers from China and the US say bacteria that occur in wastewater can actually be used to produce energy needed in water desalination.

Researchers from the Penn State University and Tsinghua University in Beijing are working on “microbial fuel cells.” In this device, naturally occurring bacteria in the wastewater consume organic material, producing electricity.

The microbial desalination cell first cleans water by removing organic material from it. This process produces electricity which can then be used to desalinate water so that it can be safe for drinking.

Currently, it takes a lot of electricity to desalinate water, which is accomplished in many locations using a process called reverse osmosis, one that pushes water under high pressure through membranes that allow water to pass but not salt.

The researchers, however, admit that the system still has to be improved. In their tests, it took 200 milliliters of artificial wastewater containing acetic acid to desalinate just 3 milliliters of salty water. Another concern is that bacteria that run the cell might have a problem living in highly acidic environments, which happens in the cell as protons work their way from one electrode to another.

“This is not a practical system yet as it is not optimized, but it is proof of concept," Bruce Logan, Kappe professor of environmental engineering at Penn State, said.

The study was reported in a recent online issue of Environmental Science and Technology. It was supported by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.


- Katrice R. Jalbuena



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Reference:

1 http://live.psu.edu/story/40817

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